Good for them. Business leaders who tried without result to get along with the Obama administration and who only recently piped up about its job-destroying agenda aren’t about to be taken in by a “charm offensive.” This report explains:
After business leaders sunk millions into the midterms to defeat Democrats, a chastened Obama administration is seeking reconciliation with the corporate community.
But after two years of building frustration, the executives say they won’t be won over by another round of private lunches and photo opportunities at the White House. …
“No amount of relationship-building is a substitute for policy,” said Johanna Schneider, executive director for external affairs at the Business Roundtable, which was once one of the administration’s most enduring corporate allies.
“We have to see some concrete policies that will help grow business because everyone’s goal is to grow jobs. This isn’t hocus-pocus. There are concrete steps to take for job growth,” she added.
The mainstream media and Obama spinners (OK, there’s lots of overlap there) exaggerate the importance of grand gestures and underestimate the damage that Obama’s policies have done to the job market. To a degree, it’s all a set-up: Obama is reaching out, so why are those nasty business leaders still ragging on him? It’s because a speech or a lunch has nothing to do with the state of the economy or executives’ hiring plans.
The White House claims to be baffled that employers are so upset. (“Some White House officials, in turn, privately express frustration that the business world seems to give Obama no credit for supporting bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industry as well as an economic stimulus bill that likely spared the country a deeper recession.”) But this is willful blindness. At least I hope it is and there is someone in the White House who understands the cumulative impact of the administration’s tax, spending, and regulatory policies. But they are annoyed that business leaders actually expect policy changes:
Last week, Treasury’s Gene Sperling appeared at a retreat for technology executives. “He expressed a desire to work closely,” said one attendee. “Then, when we brought up the issue of repatriation [the opportunity for corporations to bring overseas earnings back to the U.S. at lower tax rates], he openly showed frustration with us for just bringing the subject up.”
It’s a complaint heard often from the business community. “Access isn’t the issue. The question is: Where is the delivery?” said one corporate representative who, like others, sought anonymity to speak freely.
We’ll see if the business community is less easily spun than American Jewish leaders, who largely fell for the “charm offensive” only to discover that the administration remained just as obsessed over settlements and just as feckless on Iran despite the kind words. For an administration convinced that words matter more than actions, I suspect it is going to get a rude awakening.